At KEMET, we believe in the passion, skills, and engagement of our people. Maybe that’s why so many of our employees have such long tenures with the company. Yet one such employee stands out not only for his longevity, but also as a leader and innovator at KEMET. Vice President of Global Distribution, Dr. Johnny Boan, is an engineer, mentor, and business leader. He is known for his friendly demeanor and passion for excellence. A committed learner, Johnny has seen KEMET through the many twists and turns in our company history since he began with KEMET right out of college in 1980.
His first job at KEMET was when he joined the supervisory development program at the Maudlin, South Carolina location. “There were 10 of us in the program, and I am last one left at KEMET. We went through a one-year program where we were exposed to different facets of the company, like production, technology, and sales. I ended up being assigned to Quality and worked as a quality supervisor for a while. After that, I worked as a manufacturing supervisor.
“In 1984, we launched the tantalum surface-mount products, and I was part of that launch group as the quality engineer. I did that from ’84-’87. In 1987, I moved to Matamoros, Mexico, where I was a production control superintendent in the ceramic business.”
Over his first seven years at KEMET, Johnny built a strong foundation for his future. His willingness to learn and embrace change helped him along the way. In fact, a new, significant opportunity was right around the corner.
“During that time, I networked with a guy named Joe Porter who was the account manager at Ford Motor Company. Ford was a big customer of ours when I was in Ceramics, buying lots of capacitors from KEMET. We were trying to grow the business in surface-mount capacitors, but we weren’t very successful. That’s when Joe invited me to join his sales team in Detroit.
“I went to Detroit in 1990, and I was there for 10 years. I started out as a sales representative, then the Ford account manager, then the district sales manager, and I ended up being the director of automotive sales.
“We grew the Ford account from those first leaded capacitors back in the late 1980s to the point where they were buying all of their ceramic and tantalum capacitors from KEMET in 2000.”
In the year 2000, then KEMET President Charles Culbertson was driving the launch of a new product, an aluminum polymer capacitor. He called on Johnny to join his team as the product manager. The launch of the AO-CAP was a success, and after two years, AO-CAPs were in regular production. Through the end of the decade, Johnny focused his talents and extensive technical knowledge on the growth of KEMET through mergers and acquisitions and strategic product marketing. He describes one of his roles:
“We bought a company and they had a product. We had to get it in front of KEMET Sales. We had to figure out how to price it, how to position it, and how to get it to the right distributors. My role was not really different from what a KEMET product manager does today, except for it was brand new products we had acquired.”
Johnny was also integral in helping to expand KEMET’s global footprint. He was heavily involved in three major acquisitions: EPOCS AG, Arcotronics, and Evox Rifa.
The next decade brought Johnny to back to Sales, but this time he was building out the Field Application Engineer program. In 2012, Johnny became the vice president of Marketing and a member of KEMET’s Leadership Team. Today, he is vice president of Global Distribution. On the Leadership Team, he weighs in on strategic business decisions and helps decide the future of KEMET. Johnny has the distinction of having worked in every KEMET business group. As he puts it,
“I have physically worked in Ceramics and Tantalum. I was part of the Evox Rifa and Arcotronics acquisitions, which are now part of our Film & Electrolytics product line. I did a lot of PLP work with our Magnetics, Sensors, and Actuators product line, so I think I am one of only a few people who have worked in all four business groups. I think I bring a unique background in the fact that I do know all four products from different perspectives. I also understand (at least I have a simple understanding) of what our products are used for, and why our customers buy them. If you put that together, I have maybe a unique view of the business.”
Dr. Boan is clearly accomplished, but he is also known to be down to earth, caring, and kind. He has chosen and helped to develop many talented people at the company. “When I hire people, I look for a certain attitude, a certain spark. Hard work is hard to replicate, so if you’ve got somebody who wants to work and wants to learn, it makes for a great hire. What I also try to do is hire someone who can help me with my weak spots. I look for people who have skills that can do things for me better than I can do myself.”
As a motivated learner himself, Johnny takes the time to develop talents in his team members. KEMET employee Tahise Alvarez speaks of his positive influence, “One of the things that I’ve learned the most from Johnny was confidence. He encourages you to explore new capabilities that you don’t think you have, or you don’t know exist.” Staying true to the KEMET way, he makes his family a top priority.
“With both of my kids, I don’t think I ever missed a play or a game, or anything important, because there is always a way that you can reschedule something. KEMET helps. If we were doing something and I said, ‘My son’s graduating that day, I can’t make it.’ I have never had anyone at the company not support me on that.”
Over his 39-year tenure at KEMET, Johnny has become central to what KEMET was, is, and what it will be. He embraced all the opportunities that KEMET had to offer, whether it be a new role, a new location, or furthering his education. From that first supervisory training program, he charged forward with his learning, earning advanced degrees, including a doctorate, though KEMET’s tuition reimbursement program. To those who are not as far along on their KEMET journey, he offers this advice,
“Don’t be bashful. Most of the jobs I’ve had didn’t exist until I had them. If you see something you want to do, throw your name in the hat. Talk to people about it. Don’t be intimidated by moving to a new location. You’ve got to be willing to move if there is an opportunity to learn something. Take advantage of any educational assistance that is offered. Any chance you have to learn something, do it.”